Be Innovative. Be Bold. Be Stunning.

We’re hit by more and more branded messages on a daily basis, which means that the attention span of the average consumer is dwindling. On TV, in print, online or even in the palm of your hands, it’s clear that whatever the message, it needs to get our attention to be seen, let alone read. As explored in my last blog, ‘Less is More’, a key consideration is the clarity of the message itself and how this is translated to the consumer through ‘Engagement Design’. But how do you grab the attention of the consumer in the first place? What does how you do this say about your brand? The whites, the greys and the minimalist look made fashionable by the likes of Apple have saturated the creative industry and enough is enough. Whether you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors, tell a specific brand story, or just do something unexpected, it’s about embracing change and trying new things.

So, how can brands make an impact in 2017? Here are 5 brilliant ways:

• Contrasting colours & duotones
• Impactful fonts
• Bold Illustrations
• Raw artistic design techniques
• Brutal Simplicity

Duotones are in…

The clean, light and rationed colour schemes that have been used over the last few years - and that Apple showed to be incredibly effective and premium - have been used by every brand and designer the world over now. Whilst when this was first done it was bold and daring, this look has become dull very quickly as everyone has become used to seeing empty white pages with a clean, even sterile product in the center.

This year, brands should be using bold, primary colours and duotones. Spotify have been mixing this style with illustration on their platforms for a while…and doing it well. This has been so impactful for Spotify that it has become a crucial part of their brand look and feel.

Dare to be bold

The use of big, bold fonts is a great way to grab the attention of impatient smartphone-scrollers. We took this approach with a social campaign for Sixpad, where they wanted to share gym hacks with their followers across Facebook and Instagram, where stopping the scroll is critical.

Additionally, big, bold typefaces help in legibility, as well as standout terms, which is an added bonus in getting your message across.

Fearless Illustration

Illustration is a great way of getting noticed. Illustration covers such a vast array of styles and these are now being embraced by brands. Carlsberg have recently created some amazing pattern illustrations inspired by their core ingredients to go on their cans.

Guinness also decided to go down the illustration route for their St. Patrick’s Day campaign, commissioning well known illustrator McBess, whose style is inspired by the classic cartoons of Fleischer Studios, to create standout imagery.

The thing I love about these posters is that whilst it’s brand new, you could be looking at a vintage poster for Guinness: they are both impactful, authentic and beautifully crafted.

Raw artistic design techniques

Creative Circle revealed a new, raw and authentic identity earlier on this year, devised by new President Vicki Maguire, which is, in their words, ‘anarchic and angry’! The Creative Circle 2017 Annual (designed by Alabiso & Goldsack) uses lots of raw artistic design techniques such as silk screen prints, cloth-bound covers and spines stitched with hand-dyed thread, and each of the 300 copies produced were roughed up, splattered with ink and paint and torn up by hand. Cool.

Watch the video here. These age-old techniques are often side-tracked for the quicker, cheaper and more accessible Photoshop approach. This isn’t always a bad thing, as you have a lot more control of the visual outcome using software like this; however, you lose that raw feeling you get when you look at a real silk print or stamp… also, no two silk prints or stamps will ever be the same.

I believe consumers want that rich, authentic feel you get when you look at artwork created in this way and I think the extra time needed to do such work will ultimately be worth it.

Less is always more

“In this chaotic and fast-paced world we all now live in, it’s nice to take a step back and just remind ourselves that less is always more’.”

Using simple design is essential when grabbing people’s attention. You can get a single, digestible point across very quickly when executed well. Alzheimer’s Society have done this really well by combining a very bright and bold colour pallet with simple illustration to communicate key messages.

So, to conclude. Raw, bold, bright, brave and authentic is the way to better engage with your consumers in 2017 - one or a combination of these 5 principles will no doubt help solve any creative challenge your brand will encounter this year.

Be Innovative. Be Bold. Be Stunning.

Nike’s most successful failure yet

You don’t have to work in the sports industry to know that Nike and adidas have a long, historic, and occasionally bitter rivalry. This was put to the side at 08:20 on Saturday morning in a single tweet: “Congratulations @EliudKipchoge on such a courageous run”.Courageous is correct. Kipchoge had just run a marathon in 02:00:25 as part of Nike’s Breaking2 project – the fastest time yet. It is staggering. That’s an average speed of just over 13mph. That’s 04:36 per mile. It’s 02:32 faster than the official World Record (more on which later).

It’s also – crucially – 25 seconds short of what he had aimed for. It was fast, but also a failure.

The Breaking2 project was Nike’s attempt to break through the 2-hour marathon time barrier. Kipchoge – the Olympic Champion – was the spearhead, supported by fellow runners Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa.

The project has drawn as many critics as it has plaudits. The former dismiss it as an outlandishly expensive marketing exercise for the new Zoom Vaporfly Elite. The latter laud the exploration of the limits of athletic ability.

The scale of Nike’s investment matched that of the challenge. No gain – no matter how marginal – had been overlooked:

• The location – Italy’s famous Monza racecourse – had been chosen for its low, flat, sweeping profile and few bends
• The attempt started at 05:45 when temperature was at an ideal 10˚C
• Kipchoge, Tadese and Desisa ran behind a group of elite pace runners in arrowhead formation ahead of them to reduce wind resistance
• The group ran behind Tesla pace cars with giant clock timer displays, reducing resistance even further
• Kipchoge was drinking a new carbohydrate-rich drink, delivered to him by helpers on mopeds
• All three were wearing the new Zoom Vaporfly Elite shoe, quoted as giving as much as a 4% increase in running economy

Nike are also rumoured to have paid each runner up to £770,000 to skip both the London and Berlin Marathons – official IAAF events – a fraction of what I imagine the production and media budgets must have been.

The return? 5.2 million people tuned in to watch the live stream on Facebook (I was one), with 6 million watching a short film as Kipchoge finished (I was one of those too). My various social media feeds featured more running content than they did around the London Marathon. Time will tell how many shoes sell.

However, the amount of editorial coverage I’ve seen rivals that which followed Red Bull and Felix Baumgartner’s Stratos project. It has become the latest instalment of the truly iconic, global sports marketing event and it’s interesting that once again it was a brand event.I had a conversation with a friend and fellow long-distance runner in the office this morning and we questioned why this is happening. Why do Nike have to create a bespoke event to make this happen? Why not attempt it on the world’s greatest sporting stage – the Olympics?

The reason, we agreed, is fairly simple. Human beings are naturally curious and the Breaking2 project had one simple goal: to run a marathon as fast as possible. It was a moonshot.

Crucially, Nike and Kipchoge didn’t set out to break Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 World Record – set in Berlin. The techniques I have listed above made the attempt ineligible. Instead, they wanted to run a marathon as fast as possible, not as fast as the constraints of official rules & regulations would allow.

The success of Breaking2 has shown that this will not be the last event of its kind – despite its failure. Nike themselves are discussing a similar event working with female athletes and even average athletes. adidas – rekindling the rivalry – are working on their own attempt at the 2-hour barrier. This may be start of the next sports marketing arms race.

I think Breaking2 has proven that a brand marketing campaign can successfully co-exist and support genuine athletic endeavour with genuine authenticity. The challenge for Nike is to progress; what is the next step? Where do they go from here?

The broader challenge is ensuring that brands undertaking the same challenge maintain their focus on simple goals that capture the imagination in a way that everyone understands, no matter the scale.